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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Hydrogen Fuel Revolution and Further Corporate Domination

by Juniper Elk

Hydrogen fuel is created through a process of electrochemical reaction, whereby oxygen and hydrogen flow separately over one of two electrodes situated around an electrolyte. The result of this reaction is electricity, plus water and heat. Engineers are now harnessing this electricity in small generators that operate onboard renewable energy passenger vehicles. This evolution in transportation is poised to take the world by storm.

Inform, a nonprofit information group, says that "the technology to power electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells is now available for commercial use." Only two companies are engaged in the process of developing these vehicles for retail sale. Daimler-Benz of Germany and Ballard of British Columbia are presently demonstrating hydrogen fuel cell buses, but have yet to market passenger cars to individuals. This place in time is critical to our evolution as humans and to the future of the planet. The harmful effects of our civilization may be combated with new technology rather than perpetuated by it. To experience a true ecological revolution in this generation, development of hydrogen fueled vehicles must remain in the public domain and not be marketed to individuals. Rejection of a large fleet of "clean cars" prevents perpetuation of other pollutive industries involved in the manufacturing of vehicles. Since the 1950s when road machines became embedded in our national culture, people have become more and more isolated from each other by the "convenience" of modern life. As we drive down the street today, we see large steel machines rolling around us in every direction. Accidents and gridlock are familiar sights, yet only occasionally do we see people bare of glass walls, walking or riding along next to the thoroughfare. It is unusual to see many pedestrians or bicyclists because of a general apathy toward quality of life in our culture and the danger involved in maneuvering crowded roadways. Our infrastructure has been built for the use of cars. Pedestrians and bicyclists on arterial roadways are therefore subject to loud noise, gagging fumes, narrow space between their bodies and fast-moving vehicles, and the real potential for fatality due to the mindless inattention of bad drivers. Our culture is designed to keep people inside these mechanized, high maintenance vehicles. Without conventional transportation today people tend to feel at a disadvantage to others. Clean, efficient public transport can change that.

People who do not drive today are likely to be either those who cannot afford to, or those environmentalists so committed to the goal of sustainability that they are willing to compromise their personal safety. The presence of these people outside of cars may be important in generating thought of alternatives in the minds of car owners. These role models keep alive the spark of consciousness that will make possible revolution against the machines which dominate our lives. These real-life heroes can be compared to Kuno, a dissenter in E.M. Forster's short story "The Machine Stops." Written in 1909, Forster depicts a world in which all people are reliant on a single machine for all their functions and entertainment. Kuno refuses to accept this synthetic reality and urges his loved ones to break free. This character must represent Forster himself who once wrote: "...if I live to be old, I shall see the sky as pestilential as the enslaving humans to machines...Such a soul as mine will be crushed out." How long shall we allow science and industry to take away our spirit and freedom in return for convenience?

In Forster's futuristic vision it is the celebration of the life process and the very organic nature of our beings that has been completely lost. Our present day culture resembles this science-fiction drama in that we are confined to our offices, our houses and our cars more than we are freely interacting with other physical beings. In the story it is not until the machine fails and stops providing for the population that life appears meaningless in a cold cell devoid of human touch and interaction. Will we wait until our system breaks down, leaving us helpless and angry? Or, will we meet the machine head on with holistic plans for a better world?

It is likely that streets will get more crowded and hectic if technology advances merely to facilitate expansion of the present system. As new-age vehicles take flight, so too will the demand for updated roadways. Authorities have announced that "the major challenges involve... infrastructure development" (Inform), suggesting that we must prepare for a world more ablaze with the fire of consumption and advancement, and more cars speeding along on even wider roadways than what we already witness today. Consequently, fewer people will dare go out on the streets un-boxed. Human-powered commuters may thus be "crushed out" and fade into the past as Forster predicted, unless we demand that sustainable technologies be used to facilitate a sustainable culture.

Inform calls these hydrogen cars of the future an environmentalist's dream. By making available to "the counterculture" an alternative to pollutive vehicles or dangerous road shoulders, the transportation industry is likely to see a great demand for their product. However, we must remember that these constructions are produced not primarily to please the citizens of the planet, but to produce revenue for investors. We are lured into the consumer trapping of capitalist life by seductions of convenience and elevated living. In truth we are not wholly benefiting by each new invention or advancement in technology. We do not need these things to be happy, and we are sacrificing the richness of our culture and our interpersonal skills to the mighty and corrupt corporate gods.

So, as this new technology appears to be our salvation from pollution, it is also "an economist's hope for eliminating the nation's reliance on imported oil" (Inform). Because the fuel which runs their corporate empires is undesirable and running scarce, big businesses are in a bind today. The 20th century's blind pursuit of profit and development for profit's sake is slated to continue under a new guise of "eco-friendly" expansion. Now relying on the future of renewable power to support their monetary goals, these businesses await not only escape from their pollutive legacy, but also profit from their investment in "zero-emissions" technologies. Unfortunately, emissions from "clean cars" are still present given that pollution is produced by the manufacture process, the mining of materials, and the petroleum-derived tires and asphalt necessary for any vehicle.

Approaching "non-pollutive transportation" as a purely financial issue is to overlook the importance of our choice at this crossroads. Allowing government and big business to proceed with "a simple reallocation of funds within our national energy program" (Inform) is to accept, in the place of real advancement, the same old system with a cheap make-over. We must not allow these giant entities to lead us further down the path to cultural and ecological demise.

Government and big business are not looking to protect the interests of the people. Their only objective is to profit from enterprises in which they are engaged. At this point, the U.S. government is spending money to perpetuate the search for oil instead of pioneering the path towards environmentally sound alternatives. "The U.S. spends about 60 times more on petroleum research than on the national hydrogen budget" (Inform), proving that our government risks nothing to improve our society, but, rather, it only attempts to help dominate industries reap profit.

Profit is the highest goal of this culture. As Daniel Quinn describes in his remarkable novel Ishmael, today's culture regards "the world as a sort of human life-support system, as a machine designed to produce and sustain human life." Labeling us "Takers," he shows how we have seized the liberty to make decisions for all forms of life depending solely on what's best for humans. It is with this center-of-the-universe rationale that corporations decide for all people their fate on the basis of what profits the company.

Realizing this grim reality, we must do more than shame the truth. We must embrace the potential for restructuring that exists in sustainable technology. As Ishmael's student reaches a revelation, he stammers, "This is what we need. Not just stopping things. Not just less of things. People need something positive to work for. They need a vision of something that...". We need something that will refresh our connections with one another and with our natural environment. We can, in this time, diverge from our previous harmful path and onto one that incorporates all aspects of life on Earth towards one goal of harmony and survival.

We are about to be presented with a Trojan Horse. These advanced personal vehicles will be marketed to inspire faith in technology to heal the planet's wounds. It is critical that we stare into these promises in search of the true motive behind them. When we realize that there is nothing behind them but a net to drag in the cash from sales, we can reject their "eco-groovy" image and demand a real solution. A wonderful vision of such a future is described by Weston, a fictional journalist, who is just arriving for the first time in Ernest Callenbach's state of Ecotopia:

"Market Street, once a mighty boulevard striking through the city down to the waterfront, has become a mall planted with thousands of trees. The "street" itself, on which electric taxis, minibuses and delivery carts purr along, has shrunk to a two-lane affair. The remaining space, which is huge, is occupied by bicycle lanes, fountains, sculptures, kiosks, and...little gardens surrounded by benches. There is even the occasional song of a bird, unbelievable as that may seem on a capital city's crowded main street."

This is the type of revolutionary change that hydrogen fuel can help stimulate, and this is the type of change for which conscious people of the Earth should fight.

The fuel cell buses that are being produced today are "true pioneers" (Inform) and should be enhanced to lead civilization into a phase of recovery from over-industrialization. Hydrogen cars will only facilitate further domination of the Taker empire. The acceptance of this pioneer technology in its present form with its qualities of conservation may facilitate our evolution into a sustainable species. This is a crossroads of human development on Earth. Faced with warning signals of an overly developed world, we must decide whether to accept the new and improved version of the same problematic system, or reject such development for a society based on human networks and community-centered transportation.



Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit torganization.